Dare County Adopts Budget for Fiscal Year 2018
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The Dare County Board of Commissioners adopted its budget for fiscal year 2018 that will maintain county services and address needs that are long overdue.
The General Fund budget for next year is 6.28% ($6,537,761) more than the current year budget. Most of this increase (79%) is because of 7 pressing items, several of which have been deferred for many years. Driving this increase are expenditures for public safety, schools, county employees, and preserving access through our inlets.
In order to maintain the current level of county services and address these long needed but postponed items, the property tax rate will increase from $0.43 to $0.47 per $100 of valuation. This represents the first tax increase, exclusive of revaluation in seven years. Even with the increase, the Dare County tax rate will continue to be the 7th lowest out of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Applying the tax rate to a property valued at $250,000 will amount to an additional $100 for the year.
Since the recession of 2008 the county has been frugal in the provision of its services, with operating costs, exclusive of schools and mandated expenses, actually decreasing by 0.33% in 2017. Dare County has maintained its services and paid for its schools without an increase in taxes since 2011. In doing so, the county did not address increased call volumes for EMS, did not keep employee salaries market competitive, did not address the need for an E911/EOC facility, postponed repairs to infrastructure, and postponed necessary vehicle replacements. These public and staff safety concerns and longstanding salary issues, together with school funding and inlet maintenance were needed and could not be postponed further. In presenting the budget, County Manager Robert Outten noted that, “Without these items the rest of the budget increased by only 1.33% or $1,384,418, which is substantially less than the cost of living index of 2.8%.”
Chairman Woodard said, “For months we carefully looked at every budget line item in a series of public sessions and did everything we possibly could to avoid a tax increase. However, it had to be done at this time in order to maintain county services and properly provide for emergency services and fund schools for our children.” Woodard added, “The Dare County Board of Commissioners is committed to sound financial management and will continue to be frugal with every taxpayer dollar.”
After four budget workshops, which were open to the public, where every budget request and line item was carefully examined, the Board unanimously agreed to cut various departmental requests. Further, the Board prioritized maintaining current service levels, addressing public and staff safety needs, maintaining school funding, addressing long standing salary issues, and maintaining our inlets. These critical issues, totaling over $5.1 million, are addressed in the budget as follows:
- $1,599,552 for additional EMS resources to meet the increasing demand for Emergency Medical Services.
- $372,549 for the Regional E911/Emergency Operations Center,
which was built with a $7,000,000 grant from the State.
- $678,653 additional for Dare County Schools under the school funding formula.
- $1,707,515 to implement the results of a salary study that compensates county employees based on marketplace comparisons. This is the first salary study that has been done since 2005.
- $391,440 merit pay allocation as recommended in the salary study.
- $236,082 for Inlet Maintenance.
- $164,552 mandated increase in retiree supplemental health costs.
The total budget for the next fiscal year is $158,147,931 and consists of 11 different funds. The largest portion of the total budget is the General Fund, which represents $110,698,050 for fiscal year 2018. The entire Dare County budget for fiscal year 2018 and 2019 is available on the Dare County website www.darenc.com.